Sadly for the headline writers and band-wagon jumpers, there is no secret sauce in this system. It’s not about the what: it’s all about the how. This is an object lesson in understanding what a given product wants and then making sure it gets it, both in terms of interfacing between components and in designing those components themselves. Rich in terms of tonal colour and instrumental detail, the Resolutions need an amplifier set up that’s capable of delivering emphatic dynamics. Bi-amping helps but it’s all about clean, available headroom and just enough damping. Given their substantial size, you might well consider the M1’s 200 Watt per channel output as modest, but what it really reflects is the size of their power supply. Or as someone once famously said, the quality of the first Watt is really what matters – but then so does the quality of the other 199 just waiting to get past it. Add that to the ability to adjust amplifier damping factor via the feedback ratio and you’ve got pretty much the perfect match for the Resolutions, a match that’s heard in the weight, scale, and impact they bring to the more Zimmer-esque moments of the GOTsoundtrack [Sony] as obviously as it contributes to the vivacious attack and intimacy, cut, thrust, and counterpoint of the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra’s scintillating performance of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik [Decca], a record that breathes new life into this most hackneyed of Mozart masterworks. Of course, the Resolution’s are getting an awful lot of help from the Torus. Just how much is evident from the totally OTT percussion on the Game Of Thronesrecording, but its sheer quality and seamless integration really comes into play on the fleet-footed bass arpeggios of the chamber piece.
As well as highlighting the temporal and spatial integration of the system, that Stuttgart disc also switches the focus of attention to the other end of the chain. One of the main reasons this Decca SXL recording sounds so wonderfully immediate and present is the ability to replay it with the correct EQ. Switch to the standard RIAA curve and the incisive brilliance in the playing is dulled, the energy level drops, the physicality diminishes, and the band recede. This is no matter of taste or preference. The Decca curve captures the frisson of this remarkable performance and RIAA doesn’t – and as we all know, any chain is only as strong as its weakest link. This system was built to reproduce the signals generated by a record player and I was lucky to have the Grand Prix Monaco v2.0 on hand. Combined with the Kuzma 4POINT14 and the Fuuga cartridge this is the most consistent, musically convincing record player I’ve ever used – a worthy front-end for this system. But even with a record player of such undoubted excellence, the ability to switch replay EQ on older classical and jazz pressings in particular was often the make or break factor when it came to delivering the difference between a good record from a stunning musical performance – from the self-same disc. Whether you need switchable EQ depends on the nature and content of your record collection, but its availability as an option on the P1 and underlines yet again how the versatility and configurable nature of the CH electronics plays directly into this system’s stellar musical performance.
Meanwhile, sitting quietly at the heart of proceedings, the L1 goes calmly about its business, the anchor to which the system’s absolute spatial and temporal stability are tied, the root of its remarkably low-noise floor and sudden dynamic response. In many ways it’s the understated star turn that sums up the whole system. Is it perfect? No – and nor is it beyond criticism. But the real quality of this system, the thing that makes it a system in the true sense, rather than a simple set of parts, is the fact that its flaws do not intrude. Yes I could ask for more individual dimensionality and intra-instrumental air. I could wish for even deeper bass and a shade more immediacy – but do I notice those things when listening? Not for a moment. Not unless I go looking for them – and I don’t do that because I’m so darned engaged by the music, the performance, and the performers. Perfect? No – but near enough for that not to ruin your enjoyment; near enough to deliver a timely reminder of just what’s possible; near enough to convince you that, as expensive as it is, this is one system that’s worth every penny. If you thought that the light at the end of the audio tunnel had finally flickered out, think again. It’s there, it’s stronger than ever – there’s just more ‘noise’ between you and it. This system isn’t a new dawn – it’s just the same old sun, shining as brightly or brighter than ever.
Prices and contact details
CH Precision P1 Phono equaliser: £22,400
CH Precision L1 preamplifier: £24,800
CH Precision X1 power supply: £12,400
CH Precision M1 power amplifier: £37,400
Manufactured by: CH Precision
Distributed in the UK by: Wilson Benesch
Tel: +44(0)114 285 2656
Wilson Benesch Resolution loudspeaker: £35,500 per pair
Wilson Benesch Torus Infrasonic Generator : £7,100 (incl. amp)
Manufactured by: Wilson Benesch
Tel: +44(0)114 285 2656
Nordost Valhalla 2 interconnects: from £5,500/0.6m
Nordost Valhalla 2 loudspeaker cables: from £8,000/1.25m pair
Nordost Valhalla 2 power cords: from £4,100/1m
Nordost QKore 6 parallel grounding system: £4,900
Manufactured by: Nordost
Distributed in the UK by: Renaissance Audio
Tel: +44(0)131 555 3922